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Full text of "District planning program: Dorchester: existing characteristics. [separate summary]"

summary 




DISTRICT PLANNING PROGRAM 

DORCHESTER-EXISTING CHARACTERISTICS 

PREPARED BY THE BOSTON REDEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY 
PLANNING DEPARTMENT, SPRING, 1969 



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LOCATION OF DORCHESTER 
AND OTHER PLANNING 
DISTRICTS IN BOSTON 



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1. East Boston 

2 . Chariest own 
5. South Boston 

4. Central 

5 . Back Bay 
-Beacon Hill 

6 . South End 

7 . Fenway - Kenmore 

8. Allston-Brighton 



Legend 

9. Dorchester 

10. Model Cities 
-Washington Park 

11. Jamaica Plain 
-Parker Hill 

12 . Roslindale 

13. West Roxhury 

14. Hyde Park 




DISTRICT PLANNING PROGRAM 

BOSTON REDEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY 



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DORCHESTER DISTRICT FLAMING PROGRAM 



In order to establish a meaningful planning process for 
improving Boston's neighborhoods. Mayor Kevin H. White 
has requested the Boston Redevelopment Authority's 
Planning Department to participate with the Office of 
Public Service in undertaking a "District Planning 
Pi'ogram." Dorchester is the first in a series of 
systematic planning efforts to be initiated imder this 
program in neighborhoods throughout the City. The major 
focus of the District Planning Program in Dorchester will 
be to ensure that new improvement programs reflect the 
needs of the community as expressed by its residents in 
mutual cooperation with the City's administration. 

To this end and to develop a community consensus on a number 
of planning issues, a Dorchester Advisory Committee wi]_L 
be established by the Dorchester community with the assistance 
of the Neighborhood Service Center (little city hall) 
managers. The Dorchester Advisory Committee would bring 
together people from all over Dorchester who represent a 
cross -section of community interests and needs. In turn, 
the Boston Redevelopment Authority Planning Department will 
provide technical planning assistance to the Dorchester 
Advisory Committee with the cooperation of the Neighborhood 
Service Center Manager. 

The main products of the Dorchester District Planning Program 
will be: 

1. A report on existing conditions, problems, assets and 
opportimities in Dorchester. 

2. The establishment of a process for: 

(a) undertaking immediate actions to meet pressing needs 

(b) developing longer range plans for programmed improve- 
ment of public facilities, housing, recreation, business 
and industry and other subjects of community interest. 

In addition, the BRA staff will develop interim reports 
on specific issues and on the entire program as required 
by the Dorchester Advisory Committee. 

LOCATION OF DORCHESTER PLANNING DISTRICT 

The Dorchester Planning District consists of all of Dor- 
chester, with the exception of that portion which lies within 
the boundaries of the Model Cities area. The area covered 
in this report is bounded by the Southeast Expressway on the 
north, the Neponset River on the south, Dorchester Bay on 
the east and the Midland Division of the New York, New 
Haven and Hartford Railroad, a portion of the American Legion 
Highway, Harvard Street, Cummins Highway, Greenfield Street 
and Mattakeeset Street on the west. 



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Digitized by tine Internet Arcliive 

in 2013 



http://archive.org/details/districtplanningbost 




MAP OF DORCHESTER \, 
PLANNING DISTRICT 





DORCHESTER 

DISTRICT PLANNING PROGRAM 
BOSTON REDEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY 



SUMMARY OF EXISTING CHARACTERISTICS OF DORCHESTER 



The data collected from the BEIA staff surveys in Dorchester 
and detailed in this report, represents an attempt to iden- 
tify the community's problems as well as its assets, and to 
describe generally the various options now available to 
Dorchester as aides for problem solving. This report, then, 
is not a plan and is not proposing specific solutions for 
the Dorchester community. It is hoped, however, that the 
discussions provided herein will serve as the first of many 
dialogues between the community and the planning staff and 
will provide direction to Dorchester residents in their own 
planning for community improvement. 

A staff field survey (summer, 1968) provided information on 
land use, building conditions and environmental and visual 
characteristics in Dorchester. Further research involving 
discussions with commimity leaders and various neighborhood 
associations and civic organizations provided additional 
insight into specific community problems. While Dorchester 
does have areas which need improvement, it is a coramimity 
which also has many assets. The following is a summary of 
the assets and problems which are presented in this report 
in more detail. 

ASSETS 

1. In 1960, residents of most of the Dorchester study area 
had incomes slightly higher (median family income of almost 
$6,200) than residents in other parts of the City ($5,747 
for Boston as a whole ) . 

2. Over half of Dorchester's 44,000 housing \mits are lo- 
cated in three and four unit structures (more commonly 
known as "three deckers" ) which provide spacious living 
accommodations at moderate rents. In addition, one-third of 
the housing stock is located in other types of multi-unit 
apartment structures. 

3. Rents in Dorchester have increased only moderately when 
compared with increases in other areas of the City. 

4. While Dorchester is predominantly a residential area, 
numerous areas of commercial and industrial development 
provide needed community services. 

5 . The Dorchester Planning Area is well served by over 
340 acres of parks and recreation facilities in 50 separate 
locations . 



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6. Many specialized institutional facilities such as major 
hospitals and religious seminaries are located in the south- 
ern portions of Dorchester. 

7. Mass transportation service to Dorchester is good. Six 
rapid transit stops serve the study area providing rapid ac- 
cess to downtown Boston. In addition to this transit service, 
a high speed trolley line runs "between the Ashmont terminal of 
the Red Line and Mattapan Square. Approximately 30 bus routes 
through Dorchester link most of the neighborhoods to transit 
stops . 

LIABILITIES 

1. Young people continue to move to the suburbs leaving 
parents and grandparents behind. The result has been that 
between 1950 and I960, the Dorchester study area lost 13^ 
of the age group 18-39 years. 

2. About 1Z$ of the housing supply was classified as either 
deteriorating or dilapidated in 1960. Our recent reconnais- 
sance survey of Dorchester indicates that the downward trend 
in housing conditions has not subsided. 

3. In many instances, the pattern of land uses in Dorchester 
is mixed and results in adverse effects such as deterioration. 
Examples of conflict in land uses include mixing of in- 
dustrial uses with housing. In addition, the dual use of 
major streets for through traffic and parking cause con- 
gestion in certain business districts. 

4. Very few private housing imits have been constructed 
in the northern neighborhoods of Dorchester. Most new 
units have been constructed in the southern neighborhoods. 

5 . In areas of strip commercial activity, residential 
structures have been converted to include commercial space, 
much of which is poorly maintained and contributes to a 
dilapidated appearance. In addition, these strip commercial 
activities contribute to traffic congestion due to lack of 
off-street parking facilities. 

6. While public facilities are dispersed throughout the 
area, many of them are old and in fair to poor condition. 

7. While parks and recreation areas have an adequate 
acreage and are dispersed throughout the area, the condition 
of most of these facilities is poor and many are in need of 
repair . 



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8. Many of the public schools are small, old, overcrowded 
and are located on Inadequate sites. In some cases, several 
small schools are located within a few blocks of each other 
while many others are far apart . 

9. Dorchester's street system is adequate to accommodate 
ordinary traffic volumes. However, in congested areas such 
as business districts, traffic congestion occurs during peak 
hours because of little, if any, reserve capacity. 

10. Since Dorchester is primarily a residential and not an 
industrial area, employment opportunities are limited. In 
addition, very little vacant land remains which is appropriate 
for future industrial development . 



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LOCATION OF 

NEIGHBORHOODS 
N DORCHESTER 





DORCHESTER 



DISTRICT PLANNING PROGRAM 
BOSTON REDEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY 




NSET 



DESC3^IPTI0N OF NEIGHBORHOODS 



NEW MARKET SQUARE 



Assets 

1. Industrial ■buildings are in generally good condition. 

2. This area is a planned industrial development with 
excellent access to expressways. 

EDWARD EVERETT SQUARE 



Assets 



1. Located near the square is the Dorchester Historical 
Society, a good example of early American architectiore . 



Liabilities 



1. Housing in this neighborhood is gradually deteriorating, 
particularly near the industrial areas to the north. 



UPHAMS CORNER 



Assets 



1. Housing is in relatively good condition although there 
are a few homes needing major repairs in almost every 
"block. 

Liabilities 

1. The haphazard mixture of commercial, industrial and 
residential uses has caused traffic congestion and contri- 
buted to the general decline of the area. 

2. There is a lack of parking space in the vicinity of 
shopping facilities. 

COLUMBIA POINT 

Assets 

lo Good views of Dorchester Bay are available from the Point. 

2. The public housing project provides low-cost housing 
to many lower income families. 

3o Good health services are available to the residents. 



4o Relatively new schools and a large shopping center are 
nearby. 



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COLUMBIA POINT cont. 



Liabilities 

1. Much of the land remains undeveloped and the existing 
playground lacks landscaping and is poorly maintained. 

2. The housing project is poorly maintained and lacks many 
environmental assets. 

3. Despite new development, the peninsula community remains 
isolated from other neighborhoods of Dorchester. 

SAVIN HILL 

Assets 

1. Housing is in generally satisfactory condition, although 
there are pockets of deterioration. 

2. The combination of interesting old homes and varied 
topography makes Savin Hill one of Dorchester ' s potentially 
fine residential neighborhoods. 



3. Malibu Beach, if properly linked to the Dorchester 
community, would provide a greater resource of commimity 
recreation. 

Liabilities 

1. Savin Hill Park is separated from the balance of the 
•community by the Southeast Expressway and is not easily 
reached from other sections of Dorchester. 

2o Industrial development along the west side of the Penn 
Central Railroad is contributing to continuing deterioration. 

3o Industrial uses and the expressway separate most of 
the residential community from Malibu Beach. 

MEETING HOUSE HILL 

Assets 

lo Good views to the sea and large acreage for recreational 
activities are available at Ronan Park. 

Liabilities 

lo The residential area is characterized by gradually 
deteriorating housing, 

2« Blighted commercial concentrations and traffic congestion 

are prevalent . 



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MT. BOWDOIN 



Assets 

1. This predominantly residential coramimity is composed of 
many soimd structures. 

Liabilities 

1. The area west of Washington Street, however, is beginning 
to show signs of deterioration; and there is much evidence 

of property neglect along the Penn Central tracks. 

2. Heavy traffic on Washington Street and lack of off-street 
parking facilities is prevalent. 

FIELDS CORNER 

Assets 

1. A new library is presently under construction and a 
Neighborhood Service Center (little city hall) has been 
opened. 

Liabilities 

1. The neighborhood is generally deteriorating with resi- 
dential uses occupying less than half of its land area. 

2. At least one third of the dwellings are in poor condition 
requiring major repairs. 

3. Many areas of incompatible uses (i.e., junkyards and 
industrial buildings) are mixed with residential buildings. 

FRANKLIN FIELD 

Assets 

1. The neighborhood has extensive parkland which provides 
many recreational activities for Dorchester residents. 

Liabilities 

1. Homes in the neighborhood are in fair to poor condition, 
with buildings in need of major repairs located adjacent to 
the railroad. 

COEMAN SQUARE 

Assets 

1. The Second Church in Dorchester, located in the main 
square, is a community landmark. 



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CODMM SQUARE cont 



2. Two major community facilities, Dorchester High School 
and the Roberts Playground, are located in this neighborhood. 

Liabilities 

1. The area is a predominantly residential neighborhood 
composed of structures which are characterized as generally 
deteriorating . 

2. Housing near or adjacent to the railroad is in particu- 
larly poor condition. 

ASHMONT 

Assets 

1. The neighborhood is primarily a residential community 
composed of a large number of sound structures, 

2o The area is particularly well served by rapid transit, 
with the Ashmont Station easily accessible to all neighbor- 
hood residents. 

3o Wilson Jimior High School and Dorchester High School 
Annex are located in this section. 

Liabilities 

lo Homes in poor condition are found adjacent to many 
major streets. 

POPE'S HILL 

Assets 

1. The western section of the area is characterized by 
well -maintained residential dwellings. 

2. Several locations on Pope's Hill provide good views of 
Dorchester Bay. 

3. Two sizable playgrounds (McMorrow and Hemenway) are 
located in the neighborhood. 

Liabilities 

1. Although the eastern boimdary of Pope's Hill borders 
Dorchester Bay, no recreation areas have been developed 
along the shore. 



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NEPONSET 



Assets 

lo Some of the structures in the area sometimes referred 

to as Port Norfolk are good examples of Victorian architecture. 

2. A major recreation area, Tenean Beach, is located 
in this neighborhood. 

Liabilities 

1. The small, residential section is surrounded by several 
marine oriented commercial and industrial uses. 

2. Most of the structures in this section are in fair to 
poor condition. 

CEDAR GROVE 

Assets 

1. This neighborhood is a residential community of homes 
in good condition. 

2. Major community facilities include the Adams Street 
library and a fire station. 

Liabilities 

1. The commercial uses developing along Gallivan Boulevard 
are causing hazardous traffic problems due to the many 
access points available within a short strip. In addition, 
residential deterioration is beginning to occur around this 
commercial development . 

2. The residential area south of Gallivan Boulevard, although 
in good condition, is generally barren of street trees and 

is visually unattractive. 

LOWER MILLS 
Assets 

1. Housing structures in the neighborhood are in good 
condition and streets, yards and sidewalks are generally 
well maintained. 

2. The topography, river and old mill buildings in Pierce 
Square combine to create a potentially handsome space. 

3. Several large open spaces, including Neponset Reserva- 
tion and Dorchester Park, are located in the area. 



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LOWER MILLS cont . 



Liabilities 

1. While the old mill buildings are of interest visually, 
the incompatible land uses in this area (i.e., mixed 
commercial, industrial and residential uses) are contribu- 
ting to the deterioration of surroimding structures. 

MATTAPAN 

Assets 

1. The neighborhood is composed of we 11 -maintained homes 
needing few major repairs. 

2. A Neighborhood Service Center (little city hall) is 
located at Blue Hill Avenue at Morton Street. 

3c Large tracts of vacant land are still found in the area 
which have good development potential. 

4. Community facilities include the Boston Sanitorium and 
Preventorium, and the Almont Street and George Walker 
Playgrounds . 

Liabilities 

1. While Mattapan Square is one of Boston's major gateways, 
the disjointed character of the commercial development 
dissipates the effect. 



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OPPORTUNITIES FOR IMPLEMENTING PROPOSALS FOR 
DORCHESTER IMPROVEMENTS 



Many of the problems discussed can be solved through programs 
involving long-term, low-interest loans and grants for the 
rehabilitation of housing, improved zoning, code enforce- 
ment, capital improvement plans and special social and 
economic programs such as the new Neighborhood Development 
Program. A brief listing of some of the improvement programs 
which will be investigated for application in Dorchester 
follows : 

1. Neighborhood Facilities Program ; 

This federally funded program, administered by the Department 
of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), may provide grants 
up to two-thirds of development costs of neighborhood 
facilities such as a community center for accommodating 
programs of community service. 

2 . Urban Beaut if i cat ion Program ; 

Another HUD administered program, the federal Urban 
Beautif ication Program, may fund up to fifty percent of 
the development costs of existing recreation sites. 

3 . Open Space Land Program ; 

This HUD program may cover costs up to fifty percent of 
acquisition, demolition and development of new recreation 
sites . 

4. Outdoor Recreation Assistance ; 

Financial assistance is available to Massachusetts and 
Boston for planning, acquiring and developing outdoor 
recreation areas and facilities. Grants are made on a 
50-50 basis for approved projects by the State Department 
of Natural Resources and Biireau of Outdoor Recreation. 

5 . Housing Rehabilitation Loans and Grants ; 

The Federal Housing Act of 1968 provides for more flexi- 
bility in the extension of low-interest, long-term rehab- 
ilitation loans and grants to areas outside urban renewal 
and code enforcement areas. As guidelines for eligibility 
becomes available, these and other housing programs will 
be investigated for application in Dorchester. 

6 o Neighborhood Development Program (NDP) ; 

NDP is a new way of planning, budgeting and financing of 



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community improvements. A more flexible method of combining 
interrelated programs such as housing, recreation and 
economic development is permitted under this new federal 
program . 

7. Zoning District Changes ; 

As an improvement plan is developed hy Dorchester residents 
and staff planners, changes in zoning districts may be 
appropriate to aid in guiding new development. In addition, 
development sites over one acre in size may be eligible for 
special planning and design review to insure development 
under the "Planned Development Area" designation in the 
Boston Zoning Code. 

8. Middle Income Housing Development ; 

Middle income housing programs sponsored by HUD (better 
known as the 221(d)(3) program and more recently the 
236 program) can be encouraged for extensive use in Dor- 
chester. To date, only one new 221(d)(3) project has been 
built in Dorchester and another is planned. Basically, 
these programs encourage the establishment of non-profit 
corporations to sponsor new moderate income or rehabilitated 
housing developments. 

9 . Capital Improvement Plan ; 

An important outcome of the Dorchester Study may be a plan 
for the improvement of all public facilities, called a 
Capital Improvement Plan. All public improvements may be 
budgeted and scheduled for programmed development in a 
city-wide Capital Improvement Program. 

All of the above programs and others will be explored as 
possible aids for improvements in Dorchester. 



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CURRENT PLANS 
AND PROGRAMS 
AFFECTING DORCHESTER 



Legend 

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Proposed Expressways 



MBTA South Shore Extension 



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Model Cities Area 
Codes Enforcement Area 
Field's Corner Library 
MBTA Stations to be Modernized 
New Schools 

Urban Beautif ication Projects 

Site of Expo Boston '76 - 
New Community 

University of Massachusetts 
Proposed Campus 




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DISTRICT PLANNING PROGRAM 

BOSTON REDEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY 



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SUMMARY OF CURRENT PLANS AND PROPOSALS 
AFFECTING DORCHESTER 



1. Although not located in Dorchester, the proposed South- 
west Expressway when linked to the proposed inner belt, should 
ease through traffic volume on several major arteries and en- 
hance development possibilities in the general area. However, 
the replacement of the NHRR tracks by the Expressway will in- 
crease railroad traffic on the remaining Midland Division throiagh 
Dorchester . 

2. The Model City Program (which includes a portion of Dorches- 
ter outside our study area) will attack a variety of problems 
facing residents of the area and could provide additional low- 
cost housing, job training, health services and other improve- 
ments to the surrounding community. 

3. The Boston Rehabilitation Program, a privately administered 
program using federal subsidies, has rehabilitated over 600 
housing units in Dorchester. These units provide additional 
sound housing for the Dorchester community and aid in upgrading 
surrounding neighborhoods . 

4. The federally approved Code Enforcement Program for the 
Fields Corner area will aid in conserving neighborhoods of 
standard housing by providing low-interest, long-term loans 
for rehabilitation as well as provide for public improvements. 

5. The proposed Infill Housing Program would increase the sup- 
ply of large unit housing for low and middle income families 
and would utilize vacant city-owned properties. 

6-. The MBTA plans indicate that three rapid transit stations — 
Fields Corner, Columbia Station and Shawmut — will be remodeled. 
Such improvements could provide the impetus for further up- 
grading of these areas. In addition, the rapid transit exten- 
sion to the South Shore community, now uinder construction, will 
further extend and increase service. 

7. Three new coramimity schools (New Marshall School, Olney 
Street School, Joseph Lee School) will be constructed by 1970. 
These schools will permit the closing of many outdated and 
overcrowded buildings. 

8. Three new libraries will be constructed replacing the 
Fields Corner Library, the Mt . Bowdoin Branch and the Lower 
Mills Branch. 



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9. Additional improvements to public facilities are 
planned auid include the following: the relocation of 
the Gibson Street Public Works Yard to a site in the vi- 
cinity of Alsen Playground and Mapes Street; the construc- 
tion of a new police station on Gibson Street to replace 
the one at Field's Corner; and an addition to Cleveland 
Junior High School including a new gymnasium, classrooms 
and a cafeteria. 

10. Between 1968 and 1970, the Urban Beautif ication Pro- 
gram will provide improvements, such as redesign, land- 
scaping and additional play apparatus to Columbus Park, 
Franklin Field, Gibson-Doherty Playground, Ronan Park, 
Savin Hill Park, Dorchester Park, Almont Street Play- 
ground, Cronin Playground and Hemenway .Playground. 

11. The tentative proposals for a new community and a 
world's fair in the Dorchester Bay area could stimulate 
existing and new businesses and expand job opportunities. 
In addition, the new community could increase access to the 
waterfront and increase recreational possibilities. 

12. The University of Massachusetts is planning to locate 
its $350 million Campus on Columbia Point. With its anti- 
cipated enrollment of 15,000 students and 4,000 faculty 
and staff, it will bring considerable economic and social 
benefits to Dorchester. Such benefits may include employ- 
ment possibilities during construction as well as on the 
university staff. Higher educational opportunities will be 
within easy reach of all Dorchester residents. 



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CONCLUSION 



While it is evident that Dorchester neighborhoods have 
many resources which are assets to the community, it is 
just as evident that there are as many problems which are 
neighborhood liabilities. In order to preserve Dorchester 
as a sound and viable community, it is necessary to under- 
take actions which meet immediate needs, while developing 
longer range plans for programmed improvement of the 
community. 

This report represents a first step in determining problem 
areas. The next step involves formation of a Dorchester 
Advisory Committee to detail problems, establish priorities 
and determine problem solving actions for the planned 
improvement of Dorchester. 



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